As region schools await testing for ISTEP-Plus and End-of-Course Assessment exams, several showed improvement in 2012 standardized testing.
The purpose of the Indiana Statewide Testing for the Educational Progress-Plus program, known as ISTEP-Plus, is to measure student achievement in English/language arts, science and mathematics.
Students in grades three through eight take ISTEP-Plus exams; high school students take End-of-Course Assessments, known as ECA, developed specifically for students completing Algebra I, Biology I and English 10.
Though there was no reference to the ECA scores when the Indiana Department of Education released letter grades for schools in late October, the high school grades were calculated based on performance on the Algebra 1 and English 10 ECA, student improvement, graduation rate and college- and career-readiness indicators.
Highland Superintendent Michael Boskovich said the district has consistently improved its ECA scores in the past three years. He attributes that to the hard work put in by Highland High Principal Patrick Weil and professional development.
Highland High earned an A in 2012, up from a C the year before.
Highland students taking the English 10 test scored an 88 percent passing rate in 2012, up from 79 percent passing in 2011 and 71 percent in 2010. Highland middle school students scored nearly 100 percent on algebra exams between 2010 and 2012.
Boskovich said 68 percent of the middle school students take algebra, and the remainder take it in high school.
Hobart ninth-graders who took the biology test had an 83 percent passing rate.
Mike Black, Hobart High science department chairman, said biology teachers spent a lot of time looking at the test, analyzing data and working to structure the curriculum to prepare students.
Andrean guidance director Nancy Reed said the Catholic school has a strong curriculum that focuses on English and math and offers students remediation. As students get ready for spring testing, Reed said the school is making sure students are ready and get extra help.
Schools in Porter County consistently scored well on the ECAs, with passing rates for the English 10 and Algebra I tests higher than those in biology.
Schools in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago did not fare as well. Less than 5 percent of East Chicago Central freshmen who took the biology test in 2012 passed. However, nearly 55 percent of the E.C. Central freshmen passed the English 10 exam compared with almost 47 percent in 2011.
Nearly 53 percent of East Chicago Central freshmen passed the algebra exam, compared with 41 percent in 2011. East Chicago Central earned a D in 2012, down from a year before when it earned a C.